Mon, Feb. 17

Editorial: ‘Past issues,’ ‘past problems’ of V’ACTE need resolution

There are two common themes being expressed about the financial conflicts between local school officials and the Valley Academy of Career and Technical Education.

One involves the relationship school officials have with new V’ACTE Superintendent Bob Weir. It’s excellent. Weir is liked and respected. The health of the relationship is obvious in the ease with which the various districts negotiated new contractual agreements for distribution of vocational education money for the three area high schools.

The second deals with the fiscal practices of V’ACTE, repeatedly referred to as “past issues” or “past problems.” Mediation talks are ongoing over the $393,986 Mingus Union claims it was short-changed by V’ACTE between 2012 and 2016. It bears emphasis that the finger of blame in this dispute is being pointed in the direction of past administrations and boards of V’ACTE. Weir is viewed as someone who clearly wants to do what is right.

Mingus Board President Anita Glazar is complimentary of the mediation efforts by V’ACTE and Weir. “I’m sympathetic for them,” Glazar said. “[V’ACTE is] having to deal with hard things. They still have to deal with past issues.”

Likewise, Mingus Business Manager Kirk Waddle gave Weir high praise for the new contractual agreement for Voc-Ed revenue sharing. “Bob Weir had a lot of work to do there,” Waddle said. “He didn’t create the [past problems]. But he dealt with it.”

The emphasis on past issues and past problems was front and center in a recent audit that reported V’ACTE “lacked adequate internal controls over processes for cash, capital assets, disbursements, payroll, and accounting records.”

It further noted that V’ACTE was in “substantial noncompliance” with the guidelines required by the Uniform System of Financial Records.

Going back a dozen years ago, a position paper compiled by the three area high school districts stated, “Very few V’ACTE dollars are spent directly on CTE students.”

And just a year ago, Camp Verde Superintendent Dennis Goodwin minced no words when he said, “If V’ACTE does not begin to provide better support for our district, we will begin to evaluate asking the voters of our district to allow [Camp Verde Unified School District] to change our JTED from V’ACTE to Mountain Institute JTED.”

Even more troubling was the occurrence when former V’ACTE superintendent Lois Lamer abruptly resigned last year. Minutes and public records previously posted on the district web site suddenly disappeared.

What’s so unfortunate for Weir is that all of these “past issues” have fallen squarely in his lap. He is being looked upon to provide solutions to problems he clearly did not create. He is being tasked with removing a cloud about the fiscal practices of V’ACTE when he is clearly an advocate of transparency and propriety.

At some point, one would expect one of the state’s regulatory agencies – the Department of Education, Auditor General or Attorney General – to step in and get to the bottom of who is responsible for these “past issues, past problems.”

It’s great that we now have someone like Mr. Weir at the helm of V’ACTE to get this ship firmly on course.

How it found its way into such troubling waters begs for resolution.

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